Altar of Betelgeuze – Darkness Sustains the Silence (Memento Mori)Thursday, 6th February 2014
Despite being housed within the same general genre confines, funeral doom and stoner aspects don’t cross paths very often. Maybe this is a result of years of oversight, maybe it is a natural consequence of the moods the two sounds often portray (which, to put it lightly, do not see eye to eye). Nevertheless with it being the age that it is and experimentation and the pursuit of new sounds ongoing, here with the Finnish group Altar of Betelgeuze and their solid debut Darkness Sustains the Silence we have a marriage of those two ends and the results, while sometimes uneven and samey, make for an overall good time.
The groovier side is the initial foot put forward on post-intro track “A World Without End”, a colossal swing inherent in its momentum as it gives way to a doom collapse. The friendlier “The Spiral of Decay” is lathered with clean vocals and an easier edge, not nearly as focused on draining the listener of all color and life. Ten minute centerpiece “Smoldering Clouds Over Orion” is where the band really shines in combining the two styles (though admittedly, there’s a bigger focus on the funeral doom here), especially in the track’s second half. Late-album standout “Out of Control” is a bouncy and (again, clean vocal) laden piece of awesome that serves as a fantastic set up to the album’s closing and longest cut, a 17 minute piece of misery.
Maybe it’s something about the harshness of the seasons in Finland, but they seem to have a lock on musically portraying misery. Darkness Sustains The Silence is, on a whole, a quality indulgence, especially if you’re a fan of doom in general or any of its many disparate subgenres. As with any release, sometimes the length and repetition can become grinding if the listener is not paying attention, but lovingly Altar of Betelgeuze keeps things fairly tight in the near-hour runtime of the album. Add in the spectacular cover art and you have a mid-winter winner.